As an expectant parent, you may have a lot of questions and emotions at this time in your life. Finding out you are unexpectedly expecting and researching your options can feel overwhelming. There is a lot of information to take in and process. You may still be mulling over all of the options available for you and your baby. However, you also may have already made a decision to create an adoption plan for your baby. If that is the case, or you are contemplating creating an adoption plan, you may be asking yourself the question, “What happens to be after someone adopts my child? This question is normal and crosses the minds of many expecting parents when they are contemplating an adoption plan for their baby. Understanding the process, the steps of adoption, and all of your options will help you have peace on what the adoption journey looks like and how your life will thrive after your baby’s adoption is finalized.
Understanding the Adoption Process
It is important to understand the adoption process for you and your baby before you can understand what happens to you after someone adopts your child. Even if you are unsure if you will create an adoption plan, speaking to an adoption agency is a great first step. You can contact adoption agencies and ask all of the questions you have at this point in the adoption process. Here is a good list of questions to ask adoption agencies when you are expecting and trying to understand all of the options available for you and your baby.
If you are wondering where to begin, especially if you are unsure where to start in finding adoption agencies, there are great lists of adoption agencies and adoption professionals who can help you in understanding the adoption process and help you answer your question. You can ask all of your questions and find out as much as you can about the adoption process and life after the adoption is finalized. You will have no obligation to use any particular adoption agency or adoption professional. You can even decide to use a specific adoption agency and change your mind on using the adoption agency or creating an adoption plan altogether.
One example of a great adoption agency that works with expectant parents is the Gladney Center for Adoption. The Gladney Center for Adoption has its headquarters in Texas but works with expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents all around the United States. They have social workers and options counselors who can answer all of your questions via email, phone, or through their website. They will hold your hand throughout the entire process and help you understand what happens to you after someone adopts your child.
Adoption agencies work with hopeful adoptive parents who create profiles for you to view. You will work with your adoption agency to choose an adoptive family for your baby. Your adoption professional will help you through the entire process. They will help you make the best decisions for you and your child. You are in control of the process and they are just holding your hand and offering support so you can focus on what is most important. They will handle all of the legal paperwork, help you create your adoption plan, help you understand what expenses are allowed by your state requirements to be covered by the adoptive parents. These birth parent expenses, as they are often called, are expenses the expectant mother incurs during the pregnancy which can be covered legally by the hopeful adoptive parent or parents. The legality of these expenses differs from state to state. Your adoption agency can help you understand what is covered. Often these expenses include counseling for the birth parents, maternity clothes, groceries, rent, medical expenses, legal expenses, and transportation.
What Happens to Me After My Child is Born?
When you are ready to go into labor, you will have already created a birth plan with your adoption agency or adoption attorney which will outline who you wish to have with you when you give birth for support. It will include what medical interventions you are open to receiving for you and your baby. It may include information on how much bonding time you wish to have with your baby, when you would like the hopeful adoptive parents to enter the birthing room and when you wish to let them hold your baby.
After the birth, you will have time before you sign relinquishment paperwork or adoption consent paperwork, per your respective state of residence. You can take as much time as you need before signing. Your adoption service provider will explain how much time you must take after the birth of your baby before you can sign the adoption consent paperwork. However, you can also change your mind at any time before you sign the relinquishment paperwork which will terminate your parental rights. It is up to you to decide how much time you need to make this important decision for you and your baby.
Once you do sign the relinquishment or adoption consent paperwork, the adoption journey is not over, it just begins. Though it may look different depending on the type of adoption you decided upon in your adoption plan.
What Happens to Me After Someone Adopts My Child?
So you have given birth and placed your baby with their adoptive parents, now what happens to you? As the birth mother (you are now referred to as birth mother and not an expectant parent), you will begin communicating with the adoptive family per the agreement you created in your adoption plan. What does this mean? Well, it means that if you decided on having an open adoption, you will begin the open communication plan you created with your child’s adoptive parents. This could be in the form of emails, video calls, phone calls, letters, photographs, or even in-person visits. This open communication usually begins after you choose your child’s adoptive parents when you are pregnant and continues through the rest of your life.
When you created your adoption plan, you will decide on the cadence of how often you will communicate and how. After you place your child for adoption, you will likely find a rhythm of communication that works for you and your baby and their adoptive family. This may change as they get older, but it is what you decided at the start of the adoption process. You are in control of the type of communication you want and how often.
Some birth mothers, while expecting decide on a closed adoption. Closed adoptions were very prevalent prior to the 1990s. Most expectant mothers chose to place their baby through confidential adoption, meaning that they did not know the adoptive parents and the adoptive parents did not know who the birth mother was. Most adoption experts agree that closed adoption is usually not in the best interests of the birth mother, child, or adoptive parents. Some of these benefits include open communication. The child will get to communicate with their birth mother and maybe even their birth father and they have information on their medical records and family history. The birth mother knows about her child and how they are developing and growing and often shares a relationship with the child and the adoptive parents.
Some circumstances make it best for the expectant parents to choose confidential adoption or closed adoption. If you choose a closed adoption you can still choose your child’s adoptive parents. You will do so through the adoption agency who will show you profiles of parents for you the select without them knowing who you are. You often will need to share medical information, without any identifying information and potentially the story of who you are or how you and the baby’s father know each other. You get to decide how much information to share. However, in a closed adoption, you will not communicate with the child or their adoptive family. The adoption records are often sealed, per the state in which you reside. However, even if adoption records are sealed, this does not mean they will be confidential forever. Adoption laws change and even if you state seal adoption records of closed adoptions today, they may open such records as laws change in the future. Your child may be able to find you and seek to reunify with you as an adult.
Other Things to Consider:
You can decide on adoption after your child is born. Every state differs in how much time you need between the birth and when the child is able to be placed with their adoptive parents. Many birth mothers decide after birth that they would like to then create an adoption plan, and that is okay! You can contact an adoption professional after your baby is born and begin the process then. It does not need to happen during the pregnancy!
You can name your child. As the birth mother, you are able and encouraged to name your child after the birth or before in your heart. You can choose their name and ensure that it will appear on their birth certificate before you sign any relinquishment or adoption consent paperwork. The adoptive parents may decide to keep the name you choose for the child when they finalize the adoption, or they may choose to keep part of the name if they rename the child through the adoption finalization process. Sometimes the expectant parents and adoptive parents jointly decide on a name during the pregnancy. Each situation is different, but you have the ability to name your baby and have it on the birth certificate.
You may feel grief after placing your baby for adoption. As a candidate in a clinical mental health master’s program, I have learned how prevalent grief is in the adoption process for all members of the adoption triad. It is normal and healthy. You may also not feel any grief and that is normal too. You may feel many different emotions at different points: relief, joy, apprehension, anxiety, depression, happiness, and a drive to focus on your life. Speaking to a licensed professional counselor is critical during the pregnancy and after the adoption is complete. You may even be able to have those counseling services financially covered after the adoption is finalized per the birth parent expenses covered by the adoption agency or adoptive parents, per the legalities of your state.
It is important to know that adoption records are not public, so you get to choose with whom you share your adoption journey. You may want to lean on friends, family, faith leaders, or others in your support system or you may want to process alone.
You also get to resume your life as it existed prior to the pregnancy. You may also get a fresh start in life to pursue the goals and dreams you had for yourself. You can finish your degree, pursue your dream career, start a business, travel, and complete your personal goals.
You also can start a family of your own. Most birth mothers eventually go on to start their own family one day. They share stories of the child they placed for adoption and some even have their future partners and children meet and have a relationship with the child they placed for adoption.
Once the child is an adult, they may pursue a separate relationship with you in a new form. This is up to you and the child you placed for adoption, but it can happen. Knowing you may have a relationship one day, even if you choose a closed adoption can bring peace to a birth parent.
“What happens to me after someone adopts my child?” is a question all expectant parents ask themselves at some point. Although your journey may be very different from other expectant and birth parents who choose adoption for their baby, you have the journey in common. Connecting with other birth parents who have gone through the process can be a great support for you as you begin this journey. Checking out adoption forums to connect is a great first step!
Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia